Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

How to work towards a place in the industry

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#1 merlinfire  Icon User is offline

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Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 28 August 2009 - 02:45 PM

First, a little background. I went straight into college from high school back on '04, and due to a mixture of untreated ADD and moving from place to place, as well as perhaps my own laziness, I never finished school. The possibility exists to complete my degree, but due to money constraints likely won't be completed before 2012.

Now to the present. I have spent the last 5 years reading programming book after book, and really started to work on projects in the last year. A few months ago I started working in C#, and so far I love it and prefer it far above all others. I know enough Java to get by, a little C++.

I really need to get a job in development, in some capacity. I'd be happy even in testing or QA.

What do you think would be a realistic path and timeframe from my state today to a development job in the near future? I'm working on a game project right now (the blog for which can be found temporarily at http://turbopixelsin...wordpress.com/)
and plan on having it done by Thanksgiving.

What should I be doing to make this possible? What would be some good ways to market myself even without a degree?

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#2 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 28 August 2009 - 02:52 PM

Since this isn't a programming issue I'm going to move this to the Corner Cubical :)
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#3 merlinfire  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 28 August 2009 - 05:21 PM

Sorry for posting this in the wrong forum
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#4 syfran  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 28 August 2009 - 07:22 PM

It might be possible to slowly work your way in through freelancing. Once you establish yourself a bit and get some projects under your belt you may be able start looking into working for some smaller companies that don't necessarily screen for degrees right away.

Just my two cents, I really have no idea what I'm talking about :P.

(I wish I got two cents every time I gave my two cents worth. I'd be RICH :blink: )

This post has been edited by syfran: 28 August 2009 - 07:22 PM

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#5 SixOfEleven  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 28 August 2009 - 07:57 PM

Try building a portfolio of professional looking applications that can show case you skills can go a long way with potential employers, even for those who have graduated and are just entering the work force. As syfran said as well freelancing is also a good way to break in. Good communication skills, written and verbal, wouldn't hurt either as when you send your resume to a potential employer the "head hunter" is going to read your cover letter first, then your resume. Then in your interview you will be asked lots of questions and being able to give good, clear answers can go a long way as well. If I was an interviewer and I had two candidates left to chose from them. I may be more impressed by above than a degree. Then again, those are just my opinions.
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#6 Kanvus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 28 August 2009 - 09:11 PM

find out what technology you need to be familiar with before applying. if a company uses a certain game engine then see if you can practice with it for a while
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#7 merlinfire  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 31 August 2009 - 12:15 PM

Thanks for all the advice. I had considered the "portfolio" idea before, and thats a reason why I try to keep myself busy with projects as much as possible, for the experience and for the end result being added to the portfolio of "hey I can do this".
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#8 ladyinblack  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 04:09 AM

Hey, got the skill, got no degree, know what you mean. I'm pretty much in same boat, however, still studying towards my degree, and yes, damn it takes long.

Java and C++ is in great demand, but mixed up with a whole lot of other knowledge like SQL, or MySQL, any other database related programming, some web dev knowledge like ASP.net and php and some other stuff, from what I've seen in the job markets.

Someone also suggested I learn Python, apparently it has some thing to do with C++ in some way. I just started so don't know all the details.

Good luck in finding that job and building up your portfolio to get there.
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#9 gabehabe  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 12:17 PM

Wait, I came to the corner cubicle? I was looking for the lounge! D:

I'm in the same boat. I never went to college, I finished high school at sixteen and did a year of sixth form, then left. Every IT course I took, I failed, simply because the teachers never explained what had to be done, and to be honest, I was too cocky and just fucked around in class. But I still managed to get a job in software development, (shortly after I turned 18) so it's completely possible. :)

(For the record, I've been there a year now and I work alongside the senior dev, I'm not really a junior at all any more. Lost the "junior" status after about 4 months)

So that's the kind of time frame you'd be looking at. Also, in my opinion, you're more likely to get hired by a smaller company, with just a few staff.

You'll get pretty shit pay at first, but that's because you don't have a degree. Best thing to do is think of it as a sort of apprenticeship: regardless of your abilities, you're only going to be a junior anyway.

The best advice I can give is to work on some awesome projects. Some real fancy stuff. Get it online, promote it, get some sort of userbase if possible. That's great in a portfolio, even if it's only one application with ~1,000 downloads.

Also, just apply for pretty much every related job you see. I know it seems a little over the top, but many won't even contact you, and it only takes one to give you that opportunity to show them what you're made of.

Be confident, and I wish you all the best in finding a great job. :)

This post has been edited by gabehabe: 01 September 2009 - 12:20 PM

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#10 syfran  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 12:37 PM

gabehabe, how hard was it to get the job and how much of a portfolio did you have at the time?

Quote

The best advice I can give is to work on some awesome projects. Some real fancy stuff.


: / I'm not the most creative person when coming up with projects.. any suggestions there (I'm probably hopeless :P )?

This post has been edited by syfran: 01 September 2009 - 12:38 PM

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#11 SixOfEleven  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:07 PM

To help in your ideas for projects check out Martyr2's Mega Project Ideas.
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#12 merlinfire  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:36 PM

Thanks for the encouragement gabehabe. You're right, I really need to get some projects completed and out there in the wider world. The question I keep asking myself is whether I should focus on .NET (which is largely used in the conventional businesses and corps) or on C++, which is the primary language of game development for major studios. Lots of folks keep thinking they might start transitioning to C# at some time in the future, but in my learning there would be a logical branch here. Or maybe I should learn both?
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#13 SixOfEleven  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 05:35 PM

If you would like my opinion I would have to say both. Each has their own place in the world. You are right that C# does tend to be more of a business oriented language. I am hoping that it will eventually be considered as a platform for commercial game development. If you looking at a position as a game programmer I would recommend C++ though. It is by far the most used language for game development.
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#14 syfran  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 05:36 PM

I really don't think it would matter to incredibly much. Both should have similar syntax and similar programming syntax, switching would be just be a matter of relearning the apis and the small syntax differences.

I would personally go with C++ having a view of some lower level programming could be helpful in the long run.

View PostSixOfEleven, on 1 Sep, 2009 - 12:07 PM, said:

To help in your ideas for projects check out Martyr2's Mega Project Ideas.


Those are more ideas for practicing programming correct? I just need something unique to put in a portfolio. I'm fairly sure thats not something someone can really help me with, just wishful thinking.
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#15 SixOfEleven  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer: Got some skills, Got No degree

Posted 01 September 2009 - 07:14 PM

View Postsyfran, on 1 Sep, 2009 - 06:36 PM, said:

Those are more ideas for practicing programming correct? I just need something unique to put in a portfolio. I'm fairly sure thats not something someone can really help me with, just wishful thinking.


Any of these programs from the list would be good for a portfolio. You would have to make them full featured professional looking applications and extend them beyond what is given.

- Movie Store
- Airline / Hotel Reservation System
- Bank Account Manager
- Patient / Doctor Scheduler with multiple doctors
- WYSIWG (What you see is what you get) Editor for web pages
- Web Browser with Tabs
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